Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes destroyed New Zealand’s attack as England won the second Test at Trent Bridge by five wickets on Tuesday to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series. England were chasing a challenging total of 299 on the final day to win in Nottingham after dismissing the visitors for 284 in their second innings. Bairstow played with typical aggression reaching the century mark off just 77 balls. It is the second fastest ton ever by any England cricketer after Gilbert Jessop’s 76-ball ton in 1902. Courtesy the ton, England cruised towards the target and won the match by five wickets.
With England needing 160 off the final session, Bairstow and Ben Stokes batted with aggression to take their team towards a win. Their aggressive batting had started from the second session itself. At Tea, Bairstow was on an unbeaten 43 from 48 balls, while skipper Ben Stokes had made a rapid 25 not out.
Watch: Bairstow reaching the century
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While Bairstow could not earn a place in the history books, that will be a footnote for the 32-year-old, whose display will be remembered forever by all those who witnessed it.
A capacity crowd at Trent Bridge was treated to a remarkable array of brutal boundaries from Bairstow, who hit 14 fours and seven sixes to leave New Zealand bewildered in his 92-ball masterclass.
After chasing down 277 to win the first Test at Lord’s by five wickets thanks to Joe Root’s 115 not out, Bairstow ensured England enjoyed another successful final-day chase.
At tea, all four results were possible, with England needing another 160 runs with six wickets left.
But the sensational Bairstow, supported by skipper Ben Stokes, with an unbeaten 75, demolished of the Test world champions.
It was the highest final-innings run chase in a Test at Trent Bridge, surpassing the previous record of 284 set by England against New Zealand in 2004.
England, who had won just one match in 17 before this series, are gathering momentum under new skipper Stokes and new coach Brendon McCullum. Their desire for relentlessly positive and aggressive cricket has been embraced by England and they will seek to sweep the series in the final Test at Headingley from June 23.
This victory was even more eye-catching because New Zealand, inspired by Daryl Mitchell’s 190, scored 553 in the first innings after Stokes opted to bowl first.
That could have been a series-defining decision by Stokes, but England bailed out their captain by scoring 539 in their first innings, with Root making 176 and Ollie Pope 145.
A New Zealand second-innings collapse late on the fourth day gave England renewed incentive to chase the win.
They seized the chance in stunning style after bowling out the Kiwis for 284 in the first session of the final day.
With the match seemingly on a knife-edge heading into the final session, Bairstow took matters into his own hands.
The Yorkshire batsman reached 50 from 51 balls in fitting style, unleashing a boundary off Matt Henry.
Swatting Trent Boult for six in the next over, Bairstow was propelling the England charge as he and Stokes took 42 from the first 16 balls of the evening session.
The onslaught kept going as Bairstow battered Boult for two more sixes, giving him six maximums since the break.
England had amassed 59 from five overs to put themselves on the brink of victory as the crowd roared their approval.
Shell-shocked New Zealand had no answer to Bairstow as he marched towards an astonishing century.
Stokes was struggling with a knee injury but kept blasting away, smashing another four after a visit from the physio.
With New Zealand’s bowlers losing the plot, Bairstow maintained his assault at the other end but he missed out on England’s fastest century after a pair of defensive strokes.
When Bairstow finally departed to a raucous standing ovation after being caught behind off Boult, England were heading for a victory, inspired by his breathtaking performance.
With AFP inputs
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